( A commentary on John 3: 31-36)
The one who comes from above is above all. The one who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of earthly things. But the one who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what he has seen and heard, but no one accepts his testimony. Whoever does accept his testimony certifies that God is trustworthy. For the one whom God sent speaks the words of God. He does not ration his gift of the Spirit. The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God remains upon him. (John 3:31-36)
Today we get the concluding words of the chapter of Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in which Jesus describes his own mission and the life of anyone born anew from above.
Jesus says that many don’t seek the things that are above, most don’t leave the darkness to enter the light, most don’t allow Jesus to change their fundamental orientation at the root, most don’t really convert and continue to lift up their hearts to God.
Yet, God commits to a full outpouring of the Holy Spirit and offers all the grace we could ever need or want. The beautiful nature of divine love is that it is never ending and ever abundant.
The problem is that we often “ration” His grace. We don’t do this because we believe God is limited. Rather, we often do it because we are afraid to let God unleash His almighty power in our lives.
If we are unable to accept the fullness of his love and let it grow within us then perhaps, we need to examine those things in our life that are “dead.” Those areas of our present or past that block us from truly being his light in the world. We need to face the hard truth and let something in our life end. As difficult as it might be, at times we need to face what is real and move forward.
Are there areas in your life that are dead and need to be removed? Do you find yourself in a manipulative or abusive relationship, and yet want to hold onto the dream that this relationship is good and gives you joy? Do you find yourself addicted to alcohol, or drugs, or pornography, and yet say to yourself, “My life is healthy, there is nothing that needs to change”? Do you find yourself surrounded with self-pity over someone or something that you have lost, and refuse to let go of the dream that you want things to be as they once were—that you don’t want things to change?
Dead branches in our life not only hinder us, they can at times kill us. That is why, when there is nothing else we can do, we need to let go and let God remove what is dead from our lives. To do anything less would be living a lie. But the good news is this. Letting go, as difficult as it is, is not meant to cause pain, but to foster life. Cutting off what is dead is not cruelty, but an act of a loving God who removes barren branches so that other parts of our life can thrive. Jesus promises us life and joy in its fullness, and he is serious about what he says. We must believe him. If we want joy, we need to trust him. If we want life, we need to let him take what is dead in our lives and prune it away.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus Christ, let your Holy Spirit fill me and transform my heart and mind that I may choose life — abundant life in you and with you. And give me the courage and strength to always discern good from evil and to reject everything that is false and contrary to your holy will.”
We believe what Jesus says on the basis of our faith in God. Because we trust in God, we trust in what he says and gives witness to. The one born from above allows the Holy Spirit to give witness within him, not putting up any resistance to what God is doing. The Holy Spirit is a witness just as much as the apostles to Jesus’ risen life and when we are reborn from him, we give witness together with him. We don’t ration the Holy Spirit’s work, and he helps us, as St. Paul described to the Galatians and the Romans, to “live by the Spirit,” which allows us to be “concerned with the things of the Spirit.” And for that reason, Jesus says, such a person living by the Spirit is already living eternally because he is through the Spirit in union with Christ’s risen life.